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Re: Confirming vs. second-guessing

2008-03-18 08:26:01

Theodore Tso wrote:
To quote from Christian Huitema's, "Network Protocols and Standards"
as to what happened:

     We thought that our wording was very careful, and we were
     prepared to discuss it and try to convince the Internet
     community. ...
         The IAB had no right to make such a
     decision alone. Besides, CLNP was a pale imitation of IP.

This wasn't about careful wording or reporters getting ahold of the story.  
was about a premature and preemptive decision by the IAB.

The nature of the need for a revision to IP had been under consideration by an 
assigned committee, for some time.  The discussion about possible solutions had 
had almost no discussion at all.

In fact, CLNP was a serious candidate.  While some folk rejected it because of 
its ISO genes, that wasn't much of a focus at the time.  Of more concern was 
significant lack of large scale experience with it.  That made the question 
of a classic make-vs-buy issue.  Could the IETF satisfy the needs of expanded 
address space with a small change to IPv4?

     Engineering Task Force (IETF). The incident triggered a serious
     reorganization of the whole IETF decision process, revising the
     role of managing bodies such as the Internet Engineering Steering
     Group (IESG) or the Internet Architecture Board, the new
     appellation of the IAB.

A phrase like "serious reorganization" leads folk to miss how small the changes 
were, structurally.  The existing structure of the IETF was retained.  From the 
standpoint of organization structure, the changes were minimal, although of 
course they had huge impact.

There were only two changes:

  1.  Decisions previously made by the IAB would now be made by the IESG

  2.  A formal and independent selection process for the IAB and IESG would be 

The IAB was retained but careful to avoid anything that looked like an attempt 
to exercise power.  Over time, if found very useful tasks for itself.

The question, today, seems to be whether it is moving too far into an exercise 
of powers it ought not to have.  This isn't anything like the Boston Tea Party 
situation -- the organizational change was made at the IETF in Danville, 
the offending decision was made in Kobe Japan -- since it is incremental and is 
clearly being reviewed as things change.

The discussion taking place on this list would either not have taken place or 
would have been an exercise in futility.  (I suppose it still might be, but for 
different reasons...)

At the time, there was a feeling that the IAB was "out of touch", and


Working group could go through their entire process of developing a 
specification and consensus around it, only to have the IAB reject it out of 

   At least for the years when I was on Nomcom, the
IAB did not request access to any of the questionaires or comments
from the community; all we provided was 2-3 paragraphs describing some
of the concerns and summarizing at a high level what the concerns
which drove us to replace an incumbent and why we chose a particular
new AD.

It seems that since then, the IAB has been more assertive about
wanting more information, and I really think we need to consider where
the line is between performing due diligence and "redoing the work of
the NOMCOM".  

Right.  The current discussion should try to specify what exactly the 
and requirements for a confirming body are and what input is reasonable for 
to have.

I'm not sure it was 90/10 consensus; at least in this recent
discussion, there certainly have been a rather wide range of opinions
on this list, from people like Mike St. John's with one view, and
Steve Kent with another.

There is a wide range of opinion in our community, for pretty much any topic.
That's one of the reasons we do not require unanimity.

Saying that there was a 90% consensus is a very different datum. The IETF tends
to let a few noisy folk veto rough consensus.

While such folk sometime have concerns that are useful to address, trying to
attend to those concerns is a different task from insisting that the concerns be



   Dave Crocker
   Brandenburg InternetWorking

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